TSSAA Board of Control votes to continue policy regarding spring sports
In their regular meeting on Tuesday after via conference call due to provisions being made statewide concerning the COVID-19 virus, the Tennessee Secondary School's Board of Control voted to continue the current policy of letting the local school districts and systems make the decisions on the spring sports' regular seasons.
Late last week, the TSSAA released an update on the COVID-19 virus which also contained the organization's policy regarding the spring sports regular season for its sports.
The statement read:
“We would like to remind you that there is no TSSAA requirement for schools to play regular season games in spring sports. We realize that a number of districts and regions use regular season results for seeding purposes at postseason tournaments. We encourage administrators to begin conversations with other schools in your district/region to discuss how these cancellations will be treated for the purposes of postseason seeding. Should your district/region choose to play a postseason tournament, all schools in your district/region that wish to participate in the tournament must be included in the bracket regardless of how many games each school has played during the regular season.
“Scheduling and participating in regular season contests during the spring is totally left up to the discretion of the administration and/or LEA of the schools involved. We realize that the situation is changing rapidly and events around the country are influencing what discretion can or cannot be given to administrators or LEA. We will continue to monitor the situation and we encourage each member school to consult with their local health department and medical professionals to help with these decisions. Please continue to review the key planning considerations for event planning should you decide to allow regular season play.”
One wrinkle TSSAA Director Bernard Childress added while explaining the policy was if a team did not play during the regular season, but still wanted to compete in the postseason.
“If a school decides not to play at all – regular season games,” Childress explained. “And we get to the point where we have postseason games, they must be allowed to participate in the postseason. That's the way the policy is now.”
The motion was made by Jody Wright and seconded by Dennis Goodwin to leave the current policy as it is and allow the schools the autonomy to dictate their own schedules for the spring but all springs be allowed into the postseason tournaments.
Before the vote, Childress added the TSSAA will send out a release after the meeting to all the member schools and it will state the TSSAA is following Tennessee Governor Bill Lee's mandate released on Monday and expect the public schools to follow it 100 percent.
“This does include – and we have confirmed that his statement does apply to all school-related athletics,” Childress added. “And, that everything is shut down until March 31. And that he could extend that further. We want to make sure that our independent schools have the opportunity to do the same. And, we're going to encourage them to do the same that our public schools have been mandated to do by the governor.”
Board member Grant Swallows posed the question about the date of the Spring Fling – traditionally set for the week before Memorial Day.
“As far as the Spring Fling is concerned, we can add that,” Childress told the board. “But, it will give us the opportunity to say we want to be flexible and see what happens. That's the only thing we can do with that right now. If we can extend it, we'll try to extend it.”
Before the vote, board member Greg McCullough spoke on the ramifications of the decision the board was about to make.
“The state office has taken a pretty good beating from the media and a lot of folks,” McCullough said. “Just the willingness to do both of these – because if they both happen and we get into May and early June trying to do three major state tournament actions going on – the state office is going to be working their tailends offs. I think it's a major kudos to them for what they're doing now and what could happen. That's going to take a major, Superman-like effort to get it done. They could have easily stated 'let's just shut it down' like everyone else is doing and be done with it. But, with the student-athletes' interest at heart, I just want to give them praise for this and hope it works out.”
In an unanimous vote, the board voted to continue this policy as the situation around the COVID-19 virus continues to evolve.
Earlier in the meeting, the board also addressed the postponement of the TSSAA Division I State Basketball Tournaments which were brought to a halt last Thursday after the quarterfinal round was completed in the girls' brackets.
With hopes of getting the tournaments completed, the TSSAA voted to suspend the state basketball Tournaments to mid-May following the Center for Disease Center's current guidelines.
The motion stated that if guidelines are lifted after eight weeks, tournaments would possibly resume. One timeline mentioned at the meeting would begin on May 18 with girls semifinals followed by the girls championship games on May 19.
Boys' tournament games would begin May 20 with the championship games on May 23.
“We're not giving up on our basketball tournament and we're not giving up on Spring Fling,” Childress stressed. “We're doing everything that we can. There may come a point where we have to say we can't get it done. I just want all of our student athletes to know that we're doing the best that we could to try to establish their seasons.”